Ugandan voters head to the polls today to elect the country’s next president and parliament.
Running for re-election is incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), who has occupied the executive office since 1986. He faces young challenger Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known by his stage name, Bobi Wine. Kyagulanyi, a member of parliament and head of the National Unity Platform (NUP), is running on a populist platform aimed at combating corruption and poverty by expanding access to healthcare, education and clean water. Kyagulanyi has made human rights policy in Uganda a central focus of his campaign, building upon his image as a humanitarian icon and folk hero.
With opposition campaigns facing state repression through police violence, attempted assassinations and arrests, the short-term potential for instability in Uganda is high. Given former pop star Kyagulanyi’s charisma and popularity, expect the election to be closer than in years past. Museveni will likely win re-election based on his decades-long dominance of Ugandan politics, but his increasing reliance on authoritarian violence toward political opposition demonstrates an undeniable sense of personal insecurity. Museveni’s support for foreign investment and mass immunisation programs characterised his early political career, and he continues to appeal to older, upper-class voters.
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